We’ve talked about a variety of issues that plague this series. From convoluted story lines to snail-like pacing, what could have been a tighter, more exciting story is, in my opinion, a jumbled money-grab for what appears to be yet another prologue for a major DC event. The whole series isn’t an entire wash I guess, but issues like this don’t help me stay positive. When you consistently feel mediocre toward something, it always turns negative. This issue features a pint-sized Palmer, a funny Fifty Sue, a brooding Batman, and a frustrated Firestorm. If this issue were an automobile, it would be a gray 1994 Plymouth Acclaim.* It’s gonna get you where you need to go (hopefully) but you’ll likely be bored in the process.
SPOILERS are too numerous and, in some cases, too minuscule to place in spoiler tags. Read at your own risk! (Though really, nothing is majorly spoiled as nothing much happens, so there’s that.)
- S.H.A.D.E. and Stormwatch on the Ant Farm — Last issue, you will recall, featured Father Time telling Stormwatch they should hand over Angie the Engineer to SHADE. He threatened to use every monster he has against them if they resist. This issue too tells us that too, only now we get to see them resist. The artwork for these fight scenes is excellent, which is a rare thing to say about any issue of Futures End. Aaron Lopresti and Stephen Thompson share pencilling duties. Their styles are so complementary that on my first pass I didn’t even notice there were two different pencillers. Inks and colors are excellent too. It’s a very above-average looking issues. In this opening story we have another character reveal. As Ray Palmer shrinks and literally jumps down Father Time’s host’s throat, we are shown Father Time’s true form. Like other items in the series, Father Time too is pink. Ray does more than just find Father Time, he announces he’s taking over SHADE and booting Father Time out. I like bold Dr. Palmer.
- Las Vegas — Faraday and Sgt. Rock discuss long-forgotten Ethan Boyer. Rock has Fifty Sue go find him and send him back to Faraday. Ethan Boyer is a genetics genius that Shazam is looking for as well. Fifty Sue is pretty funny when she makes a remark about how hot it is wearing Deathstroke’s mask. She’s still as misunderstood as ever, and by misunderstood, I mean by us as readers. She has been around for a ton of issues and we still don’t understand in a satisfactory manner her motivations for anything. Hints about past “parents” and he weird devotion to Slade help paint a picture, but we still don’t really know this character so often featured in these pages. She just so happens to run upon Justin, Grifter’s buddy, who just so happens to be on the phone with Cole. She overhears the conversation before taking Justin’s phone and speaking to Cole. It’s all very coincidental.
- New York City — Terry and Plastique with the help of ALFRED are looking for any trace of Brother Eye in the city. Terry believes since he still exists, that Brother Eye must exist too because if Brother Eye was gone, Terry would have never had to travel in the past to stop him. This gives way to some light philosophical musings between Terry and Plastique. In the DC universe, I don’t know which version of time travel they are subscribing to (parallel universes, linear constructs of time, infinite universes, 52 universes…etc) and I’m certain whatever Terry or Plastique says about the issue will not matter at all. The story that’s going to happen will happen, and I’m pretty sure the payoff will not be found in Futures End, but rather Convergence next year.
- Unlabeled Section (Firestorm) — Madison and Jason give us enough obvious exposition here to wipe away the need to flip back at past issues to remember what’s happening. They still can’t separate and, like we were told previously, they go back to the site of the explosion. Madison is still such a terrible character and the slow pacing of this section bores me. Upon arrival to the desolated lab, Firestorm runs into Dr. Yamazake, AKA Doctor Polaris. His suit is ridiculous and still, the series is sticking with the pink and purple theme.
*My first car.
- You wanna see Deathstroke-Tutu-Fifty-Sue in action.
- You want to know what Father Time looks like.
The pacing sucks. A few characters take steps forward in their development, while most of the other story lines remain stagnant. This issue looks great, however, I don’t believe it’s a must-read.